Pro-EU Tory MP Says UK Should've Sent Troops to Ukraine and Imposed No-Fly Zone
15:54 GMT 17.02.2022 (Updated: 15:35 GMT 28.05.2023)
© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS / British Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood is seen walking outside the Houses of Parliament in LondonBritish Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood is seen walking outside the Houses of Parliament in London
© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS / British Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood is seen walking outside the Houses of Parliament in London
Defence Select Committee chair Tobias Ellwood has remained a strident critic of his own government's honouring of the 2016 vote to leave the European Union — which supported the 2014 Maidan Square coup in Ukraine that precipitated the current crisis between NATO and Russia.
An outspoken Tory Remainer has insisted Britain should have sent troops to Ukraine to oppose the Russian "invasion" that never happened.
Backbench MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Parliamentary Defence Select Committee, looked decidedly agitated when he spoke to Sky News' Kay Burley on Thursday morning from the Ukrainian capital Kiev — the day after Russian troops were supposed to have invaded the Western client state, according to British tabloids.
He revealed he had been speaking to senior US military leaders since late last year about sending British troops to support Ukraine's forces, who have waged a low-intensity war against the self-declared Donbass people's republics for over seven years.
"It would have taken five days to mobilise those forces, at the request of Ukraine, this is what they actually wanted but we blinked, we didn't appreciate the full picture," Ellwood claimed.
The West "blinked" and did not understand troops needed to be on the ground in Ukraine earlier this year and sanctions will only push Russia towards China, the chair of the defence committee Tobias Ellwood has told Sky News.— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 17, 2022
Read more: https://t.co/i9UvaSWe88 pic.twitter.com/d9dMW2pttI
"We didn't have the situational awareness to say 'my goodness, this is not just about Ukraine there's something else going on here'", he added. "The West is now appreciating that, there's no doubt about that".
"But, I worry that still isn't fully understood", Ellwood lamented. "Any sanctions that are imposed onto Russia, they will retaliate and it will give Putin the excuse to pivot his country away from the West towards an alliance with China".
Moscow and Beijing have forged ever-closer ties over the past two decades, but Western sabre-rattling over Ukraine prompted the two nuclear powers to issue a joint statement condemning NATO expansion and Cold War-style actions in early February.
16 February 2022, 11:40 GMT
The backbencher repeated US President Joe Biden's claim that Russia might still invade "at any moment" — but complained it was "far too late" to organise a confrontation between ground forces of the nuclear powers.
"Privately, I think the international community is regretting not stepping forward but we still can act, we still can offer a no-fly zone", Ellwood said. "And critically, this initiative Britain put forward, this alliance between Poland, Ukraine and Britain is something that's very very important indeed - that needs to be explored as to how we can support the Ukrainian people".
Ellwood is a strident opponent of Britain's exit from the European Union, which along with the US supported the violent 2014 Maidan Square coup d'etat against elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey later admonished Ellwood for travelling to Ukraine unofficially, in contravention of government advice for British citizens to avoid visiting the country due to ongoing tensions.
“If you are not engaged in the official diplomatic effort of HM Government it’s probably not the best thing to have done, but Tobias will have made his own judgement,” Heappey said.